We never meant for it to happen. It just did. One week, we were flipping the channels. The next we were rushing home to catch Antiques Roadshow. It's not about the price of Grandma's lampshade. It's the human drama: the thrill of a historic Persian rug or the agony of a reproduced teakettle, the rooting for a jackpot for the old lady on pension or hoping for disappointment for the snobby pseudo-connoisseur. The real Roadshow is skipping us for Houston this summer, but International Toy Collectors Association's Toy Roadshow will appraise your items and pay you for them. Collectors will have magnifying glasses, reference books and cash in hand from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at Grapevine Super 8 Motel, 250 E. Highway 114. The ITCA's tip sheet recommends toys manufactured before 1970 and name-brand items such as Superman and Shirley Temple, with a special emphasis on dolls, trains and cast iron banks. Admission is free.
Friday, February 11
It's like pouring cheese sauce on broccoli to make it taste better to kids. The Meadows Opera Theatre sets Gaetano Donizetti's comic opera L'Elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love) in a Texas-Mexico border town at the turn of the century, hoping to give audiences a familiar landscape--and maybe their first taste of opera. The story--in this version, at least--focuses on Nemorino, a lowly cowboy, in love with Adina, the boss of a ranch she inherited from her family. To woo his lady, Nemorino buys "the elixir of love" from a snake-oil salesman but winds up drunk and foolish. The show is called family-friendly (as well as novice-friendly), and audience members are encouraged to wear their Western outfits to the show. L'Elisir d'amore is 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Bob Hope Theatre of the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd., at Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $6 to $12. Call 214-768-2787.
The spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine of The Vagina Monologues (that is, the painful, emotional ones about war-time rape and childhood sexual abuse) go down can be summed up in three words: the Orgasm Scene. It's funny, it's titillating, it goes on so long that everyone feels a little uncomfortable--and jealous. There's also the hilarious rant against speculums and tampons and an audience-participation reclaiming of the C-word. But the funny, controversial part never undercuts the more serious topics, which helped spur V-Day, a reclaiming of the V-word--the evil Valentine's Day--as a holiday dedicated to the well-being of women. Mid-February performances across the country in college auditoriums and community theaters raise money for rape and abuse organizations, at home as well as abroad. The Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance at the University of North Texas presents shows at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Main Auditorium on Hickory Street in Denton. Tickets are $8 to $10. Call 940-565-3805. SMU's is 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Hughes-Trigg Theater, 3140 Dyer St. Tickets are $7 to $15. Call 214-768-4796.
Sunday, February 13
Suggesting books to a kid can feel like a screenwriter pitching stories to a movie exec: "OK, OK, you're really going to love this one. It's about a boy who grows up to be Merlin, King Arthur's sorcerer. Wait, wait, it gets better. He has amnesia." C'mon, the one about the boy with the lightning bolt scar and his adventures at school didn't sound so great either. But T.A. Barron's The Lost Years of Merlin series is a lot like Harry Potter. It's loved by kids and adults, and now it's being made into a movie. Find out more when Barron joins Arts & Letters Live Jr. for a talk and question-and-answer session at the Dallas Museum of Art's Horchow Auditorium, 1717 N. Harwood St., at 3 p.m. Sunday. Call 214-922-1219.
Monday, February 14
Guys, planning a good Valentine's Day gift or date can be tricky. If you spring for the heart-shaped box of chocolates, you might hear, "Are you trying to make me fat?" If you don't, the reply could be, "Do you think I'm fat?" There's no escape. Forget the waistline and go for the funny bone. It's easy, since many of the comedy theaters are offering Valentine's Day specials. At Ad-Libs, 2613 Ross Ave., doors open at 6:30 p.m. for dinner before the 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $44 per person and include pasta, veggies, salad, bread and, for dessert, chocolate fondue and strawberries, plus an open bar, a split bottle of champagne and a ticket to a future show. Call 214-754-7050. Paul Varghese from Last Comic Standing 2 and Joe Fox from BET headline at Backdoor Comedy's show, which also takes place at 2613 Ross Ave. The show starts at 9 p.m., and tickets are $12. Call 214-328-4444. West End Comedy Theatre, 603 Munger Ave., hosts a special performance by Pavlov's Dogs at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person or $25 per couple. Call 214-880-9990.
Tuesday, February 15
His subjects are almost as plentiful as trees and grass. He calls them "self-absorbed, decadent, petty, shameless and belovedly shallow." You may know them as the pretty people or the glitterati; Paris Hilton is their queen. And Grant Guilliams paints them on large panoramic canvases fitted into curved shadow boxes that give the paintings a drive-in movie theater look. His solo exhibit opens Tuesday and runs through March 12 at the Pigeon-Stone Project at the Continental Gallery, 3311 Elm St. A reception will be held from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. February 19. Call 214-497-4640.